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Things to do in Riga

Build up your arms with some cross-country skiing

Latvian snow doesn’t usually fall until December. But once it does, all the locals take to Victory Park to enjoy some cross-country skiing. A tougher sport compared to its downhill counterpart, cross-country skiing is arguably more rewarding for its closeness to nature. Seek out the trails at Sigulda, just east of Riga.

Enjoy a night at the opera

Neoclassical in style, the Latvian National Opera building (tel: +371 6707 3777; www.opera.lv/en) is not only a celebrated cultural institution but also a statement to be taken seriously. The operatic company and the celebrated national ballet, both of which call the venue home, have met that challenge; do not miss the chance to see either perform.

Keep your grip during a tree top adventure

Visitors looking to stretch their limbs should hang out at Mežakaķis Adventure Park (tel: +371 6797 6886; www.kakiskalns.lv). Located in north Riga’s Mežaparks, this treetop obstacle course features zip-wires, swings and rope bridges set to challenge everyone from children to adult athletes. All six courses start at ground level and take two hours to complete.

Paddle the city's canals at night

A beautiful city by day, Riga is also enchanting by night – especially when seen from a canal. Tours in Riga (tel: +371 2664 9035; www.toursinriga.lv) give visitors the chance to glide beneath bridges, through parks and past landmarks from a kayak. An expert guide who retells Riga’s rich history runs the tours at night.

Speed across the snow on a husky-pulled sled

Visitors looking to tame wild Latvia should head to Vidzeme, just over an hour drive from Riga. Locals in this remote part of Latvia maintain traditions such as husky sledding. Discover Latvia (tel: +371 2924 6129; www.discover-latvia.lv) will teach you how to ‘mush’ before you sled a 5km route. Mulled wine will greet you upon your return.

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Hestia Hotel Jugend

The latest offering from this rapidly growing hotel chain offers state-of-the-art rooms with high-speed internet access, albeit a lack of soul. The location is handy, just on the edge of Old Town and within walking distance of most of the main points of interest.

Grand Palace

Regarded by many as the finest hotel in Riga, the Grand Palace is a supremely enjoyable place to stay. It manages to conjure up an old world feeling of luxury and decadence while also staying ahead of the game with Wi-Fi now available in all guest rooms. Slick service, a sauna and gym help complete the impressive picture of perhaps the best hotel in the country. First class.

Hotel Bergs

When it first opened it was ranked by Condé Nast as one of the world's best boutique hotels. This slick operation in the new town is indeed impressive, both in terms of the designer décor and the seamlessly smooth service. It’s easy to see why this Riga hotel has won so many awards. Still one of the most fashionable places to stay in the Latvian capital, Hotel Bergs also has an excellent restaurant on site.

Radisson SAS Daugava

The free airport transfer helps make up for the location on the opposite bank of the River Daugava from almost everything you will want to see and do. The views of the Old Town are superb across the water. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available for all guests.

Rixwell Centra

This boutique hotel in Riga is a stylish option handily located between Old Town and the bus and railway stations. The 26 minimalist rooms are elegantly decorated and all have satellite TV and internet connections. Some of the rooms on the upper levels boast great views of Old Town.

Dodo Hotel

Latvia’s answer to the Premier Inn, Dodo is the flagship property for a new chain of budget hotels. What the 100+ spacious rooms lack in individuality they more than make up for in comfort and value for money, making this a good choice for budget travellers. The breakfast buffet costs extra, and the hotel is about a 15-minute walk into town. Even so, this is one of the better value hotels in Riga.